The 26-year-old phenom is must-see television, and East Coast baseball fans are rarely left disappointed upon staying up late to watch him play.
Ohtani is arguably the most exciting player in baseball, and here’s why.
The Rarity of Two-Way Players
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: two-way players are exceptionally rare in baseball, and Ohtani does both—pitching and hitting—at a very high level.
Ohtani broke into the league in 2018 with a 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 3.57 FIP on the mound.
He complemented that with a .285/.361/.564 slash line at the plate, including 22 home runs.
Ohtani won the Rookie of the Year award in a runaway.
Baseball fans were robbed of a true Ohtani experience in 2019 and 2020, as he made just two total starts on the mound due to a forearm strain.
Part of the value in having a two-way guy like Ohtani, however, is that a pitching-related injury doesn’t necessarily take the bat out of his hands.
Ohtani posted an above-league-average OPS+ of 107 between 2019-2020, despite the shortened 2020 season being a very forgettable one for Shohei statistically.
Ohtani is back in full force this season, though.
At the plate, he leads the league in home runs with 12, and also has a phenomenal .901 OPS.
On the hill, Ohtani has managed an elite 2.10 ERA over five starts to go along with a 1.20 WHIP and 3.60 FIP.
Shohei Ohtani struck out Yordan Álvarez, Yuli Gurriel, and Carlos Correa in succession, all of which ended on splitters.
He’s struck out six batters in four scoreless innings (50 pitches). pic.twitter.com/EUtj3CAOOY
— Brent Maguire (@bmags94) May 12, 2021
Watching Ohtani do his thing is most comparable to watching the Little League World Series each summer, where star players are featured both on the rubber and at the dish.
He is Going to be a Perennial MVP Candidate
If he can stay healthy, Ohtani is going to be a WAR magnet for the rest of his career, thus, he is destined to be in the MVP race year in and year out.
As a two-way player, Ohtani is able to accumulate a full season’s worth of WAR as a pitcher and a full season’s worth of WAR as a hitter.
His value is effectively twice that of the average one-way player.
Plus, he only takes up one roster spot.
There are no downsides when it comes to having a guy like Shohei as a cornerstone for your franchise.
Right now, Ohtani has the second-shortest odds to win the 2021 AL MVP award behind his teammate Mike Trout.
It would certainly help if the Angels could put a contending team on the field, but a player’s team’s success is not the end-all-be-all for every MVP voter.
Ohtani’s swing is one of the most aesthetically pleasing sights to see in all of baseball.
His motion is so smooth, and he covers so much of the plate.
Ohtani has the most beautiful swing. He’s such a fantastic player. What an absolute joy to watch.
— High Heat Stats (@HighHeatStats) April 14, 2021
Ohtani’s upper body strength also allows him to leave the yard on pitches and swings like these:
Shohei is not human. pic.twitter.com/4xy4iRtWss
— MLB (@MLB) May 15, 2021
The most exciting part is that he is still developing and getting better.
Ohtani likely has many more historic seasons in store for baseball fans to enjoy.
He is truly a generational player.